This arguably should go in the brainstorming forum, but it has a graphic element, and this forum supports uploads, so i post here.
In various threads (some of which i started) such as, Terraforming Tech Tree, Gaian Planets (a modification), and Environmental Tech(s) / Planet Status, there is interest in varying the quality of available planets, and terraforming them.
This thread isn't about the specifics of what specials do, or what techs can terraform to what degree. Instead it's about providing a expanding existent game concepts to offer a better framework for specials and effects that change the general quality of a planet for habitation.
What we have now:
There is a concept named in the DD "Environmental Conditions"which i will hereafter refer to as "Habitability", since IMHO it's clearer. The Habitability of a planet is primarily determined by the distance along the EP Wheel of the planet's environment from the colonizing specie's EP. Habitability is a 5 step scale thus:
The Gaian special is (theoretically) the only use of the "Optimal" habitability level, however the most of effects of the "Homeworld" special nearly replicate "Optimal".
1) Expand and re-label the Habitability Scale.
I don't think the labels are clear. Confusion between "Superb" and "Optimal" has not been uncommon on the forums. Also "Inhospitable" is not unambiguously worse than "Terrible".
- Paradise— "Tamed" planets, such as Gaians. Controlled & regulated so that dangerous weather and unusable environment's don't exist.
Excellent— Homeworlds and rare, similarly choice planets
Good— Most planets of your EP
Terrible— With current technology only a small token colony can be established
Uninhabitable— Colonies cannot be established, life cannot be supported
2) Make wider use of the Habitability scale to show changes in tech, effects, and specials.
• I.E. instead of duplicating the effects of "Excellent Habitability" in the "Homeworld" special, instead invoke "Excellent" as part of "Homeworld".
• Instead of making tech advances change the qualities of "Terrible" planets, rather make advances redefine which planets are "Terrible". Since the Habitability label prominently displayed when deciding what to colonize, this makes things clearer. Tech advances could make previously uncolonizable planets useable, and increase the habitability of non-EP planets something like this:
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steps away tech 1 tech 2 tech 3 tech 4 from EP -1 Harsh Fair Fair Fair -2 Terrible Harsh Harsh Fair -3 Uninhabitable Terrible Harsh Harsh -4 Uninhabitable Uninhabitable Terrible Harsh
3) Use standardized planet graphics for the 3 levels of quality in each EP
For 5 or 6 of our current EPs it should be pretty easy to indicate the intuitively difference between high and lower quality planets of the same EP by including more of the element(s) that make that planet distinctive and by increasing interesting detail. I.E. it's blue water and green plants that make terrain planets distinctive, so the "Paradise" Terrain has lots of water and plants, while the merely "Good" Terran is rather dull and has less water. Similarly the Paradise for Inferno-dwellers has the most glowing lava chasms.
The planet textures would come in sets of 3, i.e. a Terran planet with roughly the same continents would have a Good, Excellent, and Paradise version so that if was changed by tech or building, it wouldn't shift around irrationally.
Needless to say, i can make these graphics.
The planet types which are by definition a more or less undifferentiated mass of a single thing, i.e. sand, ice, or ocean, etc. however to not lend themselves to any sort of distinction between better or worse.
I'm certainly not including many of the reasons i think this is a good idea.
Basically it's a more comprehensive, consistent platform to mess around with these aspects of planets.